How are Hotels Attempting to “Go Green”?

How are hotels attempting to “go green”?

The hotel industry is massive – and, at least in some geographical areas, growing. Despite the fact that more people are starting to use services such as AirBNB, there are still around 40,000 hotels in USA alone. The Global Hotel Study, conducted and published by Strglobal, suggests that there are about 188,000 active hotels globally. And these buildings contain a total of 18 million guest rooms. When you know that the average hotel usually fill about 70 % of their capacity, you understand what type of big business this is.

And most big industries do have some sort of environmental footprint. Traveling itself is not very environmentally friendly. Commercial airlines alone count for between 1.5 % and 3 % of all the greenhouse emissions globally – and that number is increasing. People tend to always buy hotel and flight combined. So let’s say that there is not much you can do about how you travel from A to B, what can you do for the environment when you choose your place to stay?

How are Hotels Attempting to  “Go Green”?

Table of Contents

Hotels and “green innovation” – what precise actions points are taken?

Many hotels have started new practices in order to become more sustainable. These are some of the action points that you will often see in eco-conscious hotel chains:

Less energy

All types of energy intensive operation such at cooking, cleaning and lightning systems will always be updated in order to use less energy. Not only is it an investment to see lower electricity bills, it also helps the environment a lot.

If you ever lived at a hotel, you have probably seen that the light is immideately shut off when you remove your keycard from the keycard holder. That’s not a way for hotels to save money…they also do it as an environmental act. 🙂

PS! It sometimes works to replace your keycard with a credit card…if you for some reason need to charge your phone or laptop while being outside.

Recycling and food waste reduction

Many hotels have now stopped giving out paper newspapers in the lobby. They are probably not going to be read anyway. That is one good example of reducing the waste coming from hotels.

Another point is in regards to food waste. We know that about 40-50 % of all food produced will end up in the trash, which is a very sad fact. However, many hotels have started programs to make sure that whatever is left on the plate will end up on animal farms or other organizations that could need leftovers.

Plastic bottles? No, thank you!

The typical sight when you walk into a hotel room is: chocolate on the bed, a nice view over the city and….damn, a couple of plastic bottles on the table. Many hotels have stopped giving out these bottles and replaced them with a water dispenser machine.

Doing something as simple as drinking water from a cup instead of a plastic bottle will actually make quite a difference.

No cleaning for a couple of days? Get some points or cash!

A very good example of how hotels are working towards being more environmentally

If you avoid letting the maid in, you might earn some points or cash…

friendly is an initiative called “Make a Green Choice”. It was implemented across all Starwood’s hotels in USA and worked like this:

if you said no to house cleaning for one day, you would be rewarded by 100 points. If you said no to house cleaning two days in a row, you would get 250 points. This would work up to three days. And then, after you had come home from holiday, you would be able to use these points to book a new stay at any of Starwood’s hotels. During the first three years, the hotel chain calculated that they had saved about 662,000 kilowatts and 190,000 gallons of water on this practice alone. That is impressive.

Plant a tree

It seems like it is trendy to plant trees these days. “Everyone” does it. And it’s good. It helps the world fighting deforestation and global warming. When Four Seasons celebrated their 50 years in business, they pledged to plant 10,000,000 trees across 34 countries – all the countries that they currently are owning hotels in.

That is an example that environmental action points do not necessarily need to affect the end consumer, but can be something that the hotels are doing just to be nice to the earth.

These are just some of the examples on how hotels are trying to “go Green”.

Three of the most environmentally friendly hotels chains in the world

Most hotel chains try to at least do something to “go green”. But some of them are definitely better than others. These hotel chains have almost literally moved mountains to make sure the holiday guests leave as small of an environmental footprint as possible.

Nordic Choice Hotels, Scandinavia

Nordic Choice is a Scandinavian hotel chain owned by the businessman Petter Stordalen. First of all: this is not a hotel chain that started as a “normal” hotel and suddenly started to focus on sustainability. The chain was founded on the basis of offering hotel guests a safe and eco-friendly choice.

They have outlined 6 focus areas in order to maintain their sustainable business operations.

1) Fairtrade.

They only buy products from certified resellers that take care of their employees and the environment.

2) “Sweet Dreams”

The title does not tell much about this initiative. However, Nordic Choice Hotels went together with UNICEF in order to create awareness of human trafficking. The biggest part of the project is to build safe shelters across East Asia for kids that have been kidnapped from their parents. So far, more than 700,000 USD have been donated from guests at Nordic Choice and from Nordic Choice themselves.

How can the guests join this donation? By simply not add the “Please clean my room” sheet outside their door. Every night a guest will say “no thank you” to a room cleaning, Choice will donate money to UNICEF. Not only will you help poor kids in Asia, but you will also save the environment.

Thumbs up!

3) “The Food Revolution”

By providing the guests with smaller plates and put up a sign saying “please eat all the food you put on your plate”, Nordic Choice reduced the food waste in their restaurants by 20 %.

4) “Diversity”

Choice have a very clear political mission to include all people independent of background, color and gender. With 16,000 employees from more than 170 countries, I guess that is proof enough.

5) Making local communities greener.

The hotel chain have invested heavily in environmentally friendly projects close to where their hotels are located. For example, they arranged a “biking day” for elderly people in Tønsberg, Norway. In addition to that, they have invested in many beehives across Scandinavia to maintain the bee population.

6) Sustainable hotel management

Less greenhouse gas emissions. Running their hotels and offices on 100 % renewable energy. Less water usage. More green & less meat options in their cafeteria/restaurant. Recycling 99 % of all waste. Those are just some of the actions that have been taken to make their hotels more eco-friendly.

Naked Treats, China

Naked Group is a company offering a wide range of services. Their co-working spaces across the world got so popular that they in early 2018 was acquired by WeWork. But before they got new ownership, they were able to invest quite a lot of money in luxurious, environmentally friendly hotels where you could live close to nature.

The minimum price for living in one of these rooms is 2400 RMB [~350 USD] per night.

Naked Castle does not only offer an eco-friendly hotel stay. In fact, they offer a luxurious eco-friendly hotel stay. Clean, new bamboo-bedsheets. Birds singing just outside your window when you wake up. A big bathtub made in wood. Fish swimming underneath your feet when you go into your toilet – it is actually made with a see-through glass floor. How cool is that!?

PS! Naked Treats can currently be found outside Nanjing and Shanghai. However, Naked seem to plan more hotels across Asia.

1 Hotels, USA.

Finally something from the US!

The whole concept of this hotel chain is to, quote “bring the outside in”. By creating spacious hotel rooms with the feeling of living inside a cabin in North Canada, 1 Hotels offer a quite unique experience.

Some of their focus areas are:

– Using reclaimed wood and organic cotton in almost all their products.

– They recycle everything they can. Food waste is composted.

– They design their room in order to let in as much natural light as possible. In that way, you would not need to use the light bulbs as much. Not sure you ever thought about that when you designed your own home?

– Showers and taps are designed to not waste water. As they put in on their website: every drop counts.

So now you got three different options to very eco-friendly hotels. And the best thing of all: they are located in very different parts of the world. So whether or not you go to Finland, USA, China or Sweden, you will have eco-friendly housing options. ☺

Sources for pictures & information:



As a traveler you will have the power to adjust how the hotel industry think about the environment. Choosing hotels that clearly strive to make a difference will help. There is unfortunately a lot of non-sustainable hotels that try to promote themselves as ecofriendly. Luckily, the word “ecotourism” has grown to become something that is almost dominating the travel industry these days. People simply want to choose accommodation options that can provide an ecofriendly lifestyle.

We have seen a positive trend over the last years, but it has to become even more significant. Think about this before you order your next trip.

Learn 8 tips about going on eco-friendly cabin trips.

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